Alumni Spotlight

We spoke to Leo to uncover his experiences at BEAT and his accomplishments since.

Leo Richardson – Saxophone

When did you start learning?

I started learning the clarinet with BEAT when I was in year 4 and saxophone when in year 6.

What did you do at BEAT?

I taught saxophone, clarinet and flute individually and in small groups. I also used to teach whole class clarinet as part of the wider opportunities programme.

What made you choose your instrument?

I always wanted to play the saxophone from the first time I saw and heard someone play one, I was obsessed! I was particularly inspired by jazz music and funk and soul. I loved having lessons at school with my teacher Lynn Holman-Fox who I then started working for after graduating from music college, whilst she was CEO. She gave me such excellent advice, which was to start on clarinet first and learn the saxophone after achieving grade 5 on clarinet. This made learning the saxophone very easy! With lots of practice and dedication, I achieved the goal and got my first saxophone 2 years later and have never looked back!

Who’s your favourite musician / composer / piece of music / song?

This is a question that is always too hard to answer! There is so much amazing music out there and I listen to so many artists. As a jazz musician I’m heavily influenced by the hard-bop era of late 1950’s-1960’s. One of my favourite albums that I will always return to and was one of the first albums that really excited me about the tenor saxophone, is Dexter Gordon – GO, the seminal Blue Note recording. I love the tunes on this record, and his style of playing is amazing. Such a wonderful sound and incredible feel.

What are you doing now?

I am now a full time professional musician and have been fortunate to have had a wonderfully diverse career. I knew I wanted to be a musician from fairly early on and continued my studies at Trinitylaban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Since graduating I have been fortunate enough to perform around the world with a plethora of artists in all sorts of venues from concert halls, to stadiums to Glastonbury Music Festival. I have toured, recorded and performed with Kylie Minogue, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Van Morrison, John Oates, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, TLC, Brian May, Ronnie Wood, Gary Barlow, Candi Staton, Beverley Knight and Deep Purple to name a few and also regularly play in West End shows. In addition to my freelance career, I have my own quartet and have released 2 albums on the label Ubuntu Music to worldwide critical acclaim, featuring my own compositions.